alias_sqbr: (up and down)
So, to the extent my opinion on a show explicitly about the Black American experience matters: I liked it!

Here's a review I read by an Actual Black American which criticises it for being designed to make white allies feel good about ourselves. Even I noticed it was way too easy on the Nice White Dude and looking back I guess I assumed an implicit criticism of him that was never actually said, and may have been entirely in my head.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: "Creative genius" with an arrow pointing to a sketch of me (genius!)
Fanart Remix Exchange is open for signups! COME JOIN

Penny Stirling has a story published in Heiresses of Russ 2014: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction. Have bought my copy but haven't read it yet, I like lesbians and stuff by friends but don't tend to like short stories.

Book One of Horizon is finished! Horizon is a really interesting alternate history scifi fantasy story [personal profile] whatistigerbalm is writing about historians piecing together history after the world sort of ended (...I think) and trying not to get into trouble for heresy.

I got quoted in a Buzzfeed article about Chris Lilley's brownface. I don't recall being asked for permission, but I would have said yes so eh. At least people are talking about it now.
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I recently read two different fantasy novels I've had recced to me as refreshingly progressive but still mainly just light escapism and had two quite different reactions.

The 10 000 Kingdoms by N K Jemisin: This has been widely touted as THE great Epic Fantasy Novel By and Featuring A POC, but I've also seen lots of people really irritated at all the praise, and I can see where both are coming from. It is a cheesy, self indulgent book that is most enjoyable if you breeze through it quickly without thinking too hard and have similar narrative kinks to the author (lots of incest between gods and the Angst Of The Immortal Made Slave. Think Dark Jewels crossed with Chalion). While the prose is very readable the execution leaves a lot to be desired, especially in fleshing out things like the main romance.

If the protagonist was white the book wouldn't seem as remarkable, but she isn't, and her POCness (both by the standards of our world and the standards of hers) is both a significant part of her character and a natural seeming part of the story rather than feeling pasted on. That shouldn't be remarkable, but it is. I'm not in a position to judge how well race is handled but Jemisin certainly shakes up the tropes of generic Eurofantasy while telling an entertaining yarn and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series (though I could stop here and feel satisfied enough. For that alone she deserves praise :D)

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville: I like fantasy, but am often pissed off by how very in love it is with Kings and Destiny. People keep recommending me China Meiville as an antidote and I keep being disappointed and this was no exception.

The main character is the plucky desi friend of the dreamy blonde Destined One Who Will Save Us All. I really like that setup, and I like her and the characters, and the basic worldbuilding and plot structure etc was all fine with lots of inventive ideas and cute drawings. But as with Railsea what I think ultimately annoys me is that he's obviously trying to write a more progressive version of the early 20th century kids books he enjoyed as a boy, but the progressiveness DOES feel pasted on.

As with Railsea the protagonist meets people from charming, quaint, strange subcultures, all of whom end up being totally loyal to her and she leads them all to victory despite being very young and inexperienced. It all feels very typical of the naturally noble young Spirit of Englishness and those plucky adorable working class folk who love to serve them. He throws in some POC and some background queerness and competent female characters who do stuff which is all great, and if I wasn't constantly told how BRILLIANTLY LEFT WING and SUBVERSIVE it all is I probably wouldn't care.

Admittedly I haven't read his adult books since they all sound too depressing, but if they're better that's actually more annoying: it's children who really need their assumptions challenged, not adults. Terry Pratchett does it much better imo (not without missteps, but he doesn't take himself so seriously) as do Miyazaki and le Guin. I do like that he encourages children not to trust the government though, you can never teach them that too young :D
Spoilers for Un Lun Dun )
alias_sqbr: Me on a couch asleep with a cat sitting on my lap top, with the caption out of spoons error (spoons)
Started off well, had sudden catastrophic spoon failure.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: (happy dragon)
Took the scooter for most of today, am thus in MUCH less pain than yesterday but more fuzzy headed.
Read more... )
alias_sqbr: Asterix-like magnifying glass over Perth, Western Australia (australia 2)
1) Our web server is going down for a week to protest the $^%&$& internet filter omg. This is more Cam's protest than mine but I'm in favour of it and I thought anyone who might encounter the website should realise it's down on purpose.

2)I just finished Disk 1 of The First Australians. It's a sobering antidote to the view of history and colonialism in stuff like regency romances and Avatar. It's a bit slow, but the choice to tell the stories of individuals, as much as possible in their own words or from the POV of their descendents, and let the facts of history come up naturally when relevant rather than dryly telling the "overall" narrative from on high makes it very compelling. It's often very sad of course: so many leaders as brave and determined as any Braveheart whose works are thoughtlessly destroyed by the settlers and government. But they also make a point of telling the stories of the modern descendants who have overcome the odds to preserve and celebrate their culture (including Aboriginal Tasmanians, despite "common knowledge" being that they all died out) . I've been watching it in bits over a month or so while I sew.

I know this sort of thing normally goes on my dw but it's so specifically Australian I deiced it should go on the journal with more of an Australian readership.
alias_sqbr: the symbol pi on a pretty background (Default)
Oops, posted this to the wrong journal, it's now at my Dreamwidth.
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Two related topics I have strongly held opinions about which I can't quite put into words are cultural appropriation and the flaws in an overly individual focussed point of view.

But as it happens posts on both have come up in [ profile] racism_101 in the last few days which deal with them reasonably well, so here they are, plus some attempts to express myself:

First: A link to, and discussion of, the video "yellow apparel: when the coolie becomes cool", about american appropriation of asian culture (while american and australian attitudes to race and culture differ in some ways, I think the history and treatment of people of asian descent is pretty similar)

It doesn't spoonfeed it's ideas, it's more a series of images and interviews which add up to a pretty compelling experience if you watch it all the way through (thus I included the discussion, for those who can't be bothered. There's also Cultural Appropriation 101, and more cultural appropriation links at my delicious)

Second: Individualism as enabler for racism about the way treating everyone as an "individual" allows people with unfair advantages to avoid taking responsibility for the inequalities of society.
thoughts on individuality, going more into class )
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A question that has come up in two comments I've been pondering my reply to 1 and on which I think I may actually have a really basic ethical difference about:

Lets assume a certain act is "bad" under your ethical code. It's hurtful, unethical, immoral, etc. If you did it yourself you would be being immoral/unethical.

If there is something bad going on, and you're aware of it, and you could (try to) stop it, and you don't, are you complicit in that bad act? Are you being somewhat immoral/unethical?

Because I say yes. Inaction is itself an action. It's not the same as doing the "bad" act yourself, but it's not completely different either.
Read more... )
So, do people agree? Or do you not see inaction as just another form of action, subject the same moral/ethical rules (whatever they are, depending on your own POV) as, uh, active action? (You can tell I never studied philosophy, there's probably proper jargon for this stuff) Is there some hole in my argument or description?
An embarrassing number of footnotes )
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I'm pretty sure I've said this before but I was probably obscuringly wordy about it so (lol, not like this post): I choose to use my lj to talk about social justice (especially race) a moderate amount.

I think this is the right thing for me to do for various reasons and will argue against anyone who says it isn't.

But that doesn't mean I think you all should do it, and are bad people if you don't. People use their ljs for different things, and are suited to different types of conversation, and have different focii and numbers of spoons.
in which I ramble )

And while I'm at it: If you feel like you should be doing something but don't think posting is it, here are some positive easy somewhat-fannish anti-racist things (3 of which I discovered in the past 2 days :)):
[ profile] verb_noire (who are taking donations), [ profile] racism_101, [ profile] 50books_poc, [ profile] 12films_poc and The Indigenous Literacy Project.

(*)Ok, if you write a long rant about how racism doesn't exist or whatever, I will be pretty judgmental about it. Just so you know. But hopefully you get my point :)
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12th PoC Carnival has some great stuff as usual

Fish-wives, Mr Premier? Colin Barnett is a sexist prat (I feel like I never talk about local stuff, so here you go :))

Doodling 'may help memory recall'

Mermaid dream comes true thanks to Weta

Also, reading through my twitter reminded me I forgot to go Eee eee a famous author responded to my review of her book! Plus there's another Steampunk suffragette. Which in turn makes me think of artists and art: I need better walls.

And now finish watching "Psych" (more mysteries!)
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I am feeling sick and grumpy but also chatty. So, some links from [ profile] metafandom with rambly commentary.

Failboat! The Cruise Ship of the Damned Sails On summarises a bunch of stuff.

veejane asks what sff fandom is going to do about this crap.

On safe spaces talks about, well, safe spaces.

Re the Will Shetterly/Kathyryn Cramer vs [ profile] coffeeandink thing(*): outing someone under their real name because they disagreed with you and banned you from their lj? Is unbelievably low. Dismissing the opinions of everyone who disagrees with you "because all their IPs come from Ivy league colleges"? Low and stupid. Arguing against the use of pseudonyms on the internet? Just..argh. The stupid burns.

Also, given that Worldcon is in Australia next year I find myself putting together my opinions on aussie fandom with all this stuff going on in international fandom. I feel a bit stymied about what I can do personally to try to cut down on the fail, though, apart from trying not to contribute to it myself and encouraging anti-fail.

So since [ profile] coffeeandink asked people to focus on positive things: I am currently reading "Devil in Blue Dress" by Walter Mosley after being recced it on [ profile] 50books_poc. It is quite good, even if it's not spec fic :)

(*)People are avoiding saying their names because apparently they google stalk and harrass them, but if NOONE says their names noone will know whose been talked about. I feel too obscure to be worried, but incase they do: seriously, you're going to pick on a no-name australian rambling while sick? This will not help your PR.
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Something I realised I left out of Various axioms of my anti-(racism sexism etc) (this extended conversation is definitely making me express a bunch of interconnected ideas I hadn't properly articulated before :))

EDIT: This is not a self evident truth, it's an axiom of the way I think. This does not mean it's right, but you'll have to work pretty hard to convince me otherwise :) (But one of my other axioms is question everything)

As I said there, if there is a society wide inequality which puts one group in a position of less power with regards to another, then the group with more power cannot be trusted to judge how best to fix that inequality. No matter how good their intentions(*).

Feminism and the fight against sexism needs to be mostly run by women.

Anti-racism needs to be mostly run by POC.

The left needs significant input from the poor and lower class. (Unfortunately once you have the power to change things you generally aren't lower class any more so this gets a bit catch 22ish)


And if you're in the more powerful group then you cannot rely on the opinions of other people in the same group.
Read more... )
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One of the ideas that comes up in anti-racist discussion from time to time and I find very challenging is the idea that "white anti-racist", "anti-racist ally" etc are meaningless or even destructive terms. EDIT: I'm talking about criticism from POC in the anti-racist movement who have a problem with us self describing as "allies", not white people who don't like being called 'white'.

Note that Disclaimer 3b applies (I keep meaning to revise this and then post but always end up posting about something else instead!).
Read more... )
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EDIT: In this post I am using "white" as shorthand for "people who do not experience race based prejudice". The two are fairly correlated in Australian and American society, which is the two contexts I'm thinking of. But they haven't always been and aren't everywhere (certainly one can be very pale skinned and still experience racism) This post is about people who definitely don't experience racism and never have derailing conversations about people who have and do: the skin colour of the people involved is not the main issue.

Also there is nothing wrong with talking about the experiences of white people in general, either specifically white experiences (being anglo-irish, say) or issues which affect people of all ethnicities (class, gender etc).

One of the things that comes up in any discussion of cultural appropriation is scads of white people talking about how irish dancing has been appropriated etc and how this affects their feelings.

The Current Race Discussion and That Caught-in-the-Middle Feeling is a mixed race person who passes as white talking about how this complicates their reactions since it not the same as being white nor is it the same as being obviously not-white.

And again people bring up the experiences of white-but-have-a-family-history-of-oppression people. A jewish person talks about why she thinks we do this. And I must admit, this is a topic I've pondered myself, so since this is my lj and talking about it here is not derailing anyone's conversation, I will. I'm going to go into a bit of detail since I often get the feeling white people feel like sure, those other white people have (EDIT: ethnically, see caveat below) privileged lives but they have a unique understanding of (EDIT: ethnic) oppression (also I just feel like talking about it. Part of the point of this post is getting it off my chest so I'm not tempted to bring it up elsewhere).

But I think most of us have stories like this in our pasts (if you go back far enough there's always the romans), the point is that non-white people have this stuff in their present.

EDIT: Also stuff like class/gender/sexuality etc is even more irrelevant. It's not that those things don't cause huge important problems and injustices which deserve just as much attention in the right time and place, but they are not the same as race and so shouldn't be brought up as equivalent in a conversation which is about race. Same way as it would be inappropriate for a POC man to come into a conversation about sexism and say "But what about racism?" (this is different from "Let's consider the way sexism and racism interact").

Read more... )
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Off [ profile] metafandom, a very good post : I Didn’t Dream of Dragons. An indian fan (and possibly writer?), [ profile] deepad, talks about her experience reading sff in english about european people in an european world, and how a lot of the arguments white american etc authors make about "Writing the Other" are flawed. EDIT: She responds to some common criticisms here.

EDIT: Disclaimer 4a applies *sighs at self*

Something she said which touches on a topic I've been thinking about for a while is "I have spent a lifetime reading well-written books with nuanced characters that hurt me by erasing or misrepresenting me".

One of the axioms a lot of creative types seem to work from is that their only priority should be The Art. Great Art broadens the soul and civilises society etc, so an Artist should not let themselves be swayed by worries about social responsibility/hurting people's feelings etc. Any times questions like this come up they are either dismissed as making false assumptions (which is often true: playing violent video games does not in fact make you a murderer, and it is very hard to predict what effect if any a work will have on the population as a whole etc) or it's argued that these consequences only happen as a result of bad art, and the solution is to work even harder at making True Art. Which is what the artists were doing anyway, how convenient.
Read more... )
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Reading the article I mentioned in my last post I was reminded of stuff white people like, specifically this video of the creator talking about his experiences was interesting, the way he went from making a blog for fun to book deal in like a month is intense.

Something he said, which took me a while to realise when I first saw the blog, is that it's not about "white people", it's about upper middle class left wing types and the way they we see ourselves as free-thinking unique snowflakes1. Really most of the digs are about class not race but since "White people" care more about being seen as non-racist than non-classist2 and are very self conscious about white guilt etc that name is more effective. Kind of annoying for white people who aren't White People and don't get the joke, I imagine.

See for example #62 Knowing what’s best for poor people. I am often amazed at how openly "left wing" people despise the poor. They watch Today Tonight! And have badly dyed hair! And use bad grammar! (Unlike poor people from other countries who are adorably authentic and charming. Unless they chop down trees or eat McDonalds or something)

Also there was a link to this black guy who set up a stall so people could have their photo taken with him, I salute his bravery :)

I've often pondered talking more about class but am worried about (a)Coming up against the fairly unselfconscious classism a lot of people have3 and (b) Collapsing in self consciousness as I ponder my own class.

1)And I think a large part of the appeal of the blog for White People is feeling smug at how much more self aware they are compared to all those other White People.
2)Which is very different from being less racist
3)Cue my friends from the country saying "Bah! You have it easy!" :)
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I keep meaning to post about cultural appropriation since I think it's a really important and interesting issue, but since I'm still figuring it out my ideas never quite coalesce. But in the meantime White American culture is General Tso’s Chicken and Chop Suey.

The video (by Jennifer 8. Lee) is definitely worth watching, about the way that "chinese american" food is as american as beer and pizza and the history of it's invention and misrepresentation.
It's interesting as someone from a different non-chinese country, with it's own different "chinese" food. It took me years to figure out what "egg rolls" and "pot stickers" were :)

The article (by Restructure) is more interested in why this is bad.

Something Restructure brings up in the comments which really pinged for me is that people go on about "authenticity" and it gets this social cache (ie "authentically exotic" food/clothes/music etc as a sign of being cosmopolitan) when what we should worry about is if something is representative.
my thoughts )
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[ profile] delux_vivens posted to deadbrowalking asking for manips of Vanessa Williams as Galadriel (there's been an ongoing discussion about the whitewashing of Avatar etc and the question "If it's ok to make non-white characters white, why not vice-versa?")

Normally I lurk there since I don't trust myself not to say something dumb (it's aimed at POC, but I find it's the only decent place to get an anti-racist POV on scifi), but I decided it wouldn't do any harm to have a go, and I've been pondering trying my hand at photoshopping for a while but didn't have any inspiration.

So, rather chucked together since there was no way it wasn't going to be fairly crap as a first attempt:
Vanessa Williams as Galadriel.

So, I've done: fanart, fanfic, fancomics, a vid, cosplay, and now a manip. Anything I'm missing? Macros, I guess. I can do that :D

Rambly thoughts )
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I am So Sick of the way hollywood hollywoodises stories, taking out anything unusual or interesting and making it all bland and same-y. And what I am most, angrily sick of is white washing.

First we have Earthsea.
And then 21.
And now Avatar.

A short synopsis of how the usual excuses are wrong.

The one that most often annoys me is "But they just cast the best people for the part and they happened to be white." Would these people feel the same way if a story about white people was cast all with non-white people? Would the Harry Potter films be an ok adaptation if the main characters were all black(*)? Or played by 50 year olds? Even if they were really good actors? You cast a role like that with certain prerequisites in mind, and in all three of these cases the ethnicities of the characters was important. You shouldn't even be auditioning white people.

If you make a conscious decision to do colourblind casting (which is, imo, a valid choice for certain stories. But not these ones) then statistically,you would very rarely end up with all-white major characters, and you'd get non-white protagonists a hell of a lot more often than we do. (In america, about 1 in 9)

Anyway, to wash the taste out of your brain, Someone makes some better casting suggestions for Avatar. Those are some pretty people :)

All this discussion is making me want to get around to watching Avatar (the tv series!) properly, I've seen a few episodes and thought it was ok but never really got into it.

(*)Actually, I was thinking about it, it would be interesting if Harry or Ron wasn't white, given they're from "old wizarding families" (is it ever said they're old english families?) Hermione not being white is too obvious. So a better example is Pride and Prejudice: I liked "Bride and Prejudice" but it certainly wasn't strictly accurate to the characters as written :)

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